Me: I dont happen to have 140 dollars on me at the moment.
Corrupt Official #1: Then what do you have?
Me: Argentinian pesos.
CO1, did some bad math: Then you have to pay 280 pesos, which was actually a discount, since it is 3.5 pesos to the dollar.
Me: I dont have 280 pesos on me, which I honestly believed to be true but then I remembered I did actually have 350 pesos on me but I kept this knowledge to myself.
CO1: Well how much do you have then?
Me, making no move to look in wallet: I dont know....
CO1, aside to Corrupt Official #3: She is a liar.
Me, attempting a diversion: Do you take traveler´s checks?
Corrupt Officials: .... (they didnt think that was funny.)
Me: Do you have an ATM?
Corrupt Officials: .... (they didnt think that was funny either.)
John, fed up with their blatant attempts at bribery: How about we give you 15 pesos?
Corrupt Officials: .....
Finally, avoiding my wallet, I looked through my passport pouch and said, Oh look, I happen to have $32, that is all I have in dollars, will that be enough? and for some reason at the sight of my dollars willingly offered, they let us go without further hassle, they didnt take the money, didnt say anything else, they escorted us to the bus that had just arrived, and off we went unscathed. John promised them that we would not try that again. As for me, I doubt I will so much as think about trying to go to Paraguay again. If they had been more than just paper pushing corrupt officials and had actually been armed or the police or looked they had the ability or the inclination to throw us in jail, then I would have forked over all the cash I had, but they were just fat and greedy and amusing themselves by hassling some American tourists who innocently wanted to visit their country but couldnt because of their inefficient bureaucratic red tape. If things had turned out differently that may have been the stupidest and most expensive lunch I have ever had in my life.
|From The Trip, pt. 9: Back to Argentina|
And that is the story of how we did not go to Paraguay.